World must go beyond 'hot air' at COP26 climate summit - UK's Johnson

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on as he campaigns on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Jill Mortimer in Hartlepool, Britain May 3, 2021. Lindsey Parnaby/Pool via REUTERS
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PETERSBERG, Germany, May 6 (Reuters) - World leaders need to come up with much more than "hot air" at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November if the planet is to have any chance of cooling down, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.

COP26, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, is important as it could accelerate measures by the world's biggest polluters to tackle the climate change which activists, scientists and world leaders say could ultimately endanger the planet.

"If all that emerges from COP26 is more hot air, then we have absolutely no chance of keeping our planet cool," Johnson told the virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue summit.

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"It must be a summit of agreement, of action, of deeds, not words. For that to happen, over the next six months, we must be relentless in our ambition and determination, laying the foundations on which success will be built," he said.

Johnson, who is keen to burnish his environmental credentials, said he would push leaders at a Group of Seven summit he will chair in June to make firm climate commitments.

"I'll be seeking commitments from the G7 members to use their voices and their votes, wherever and whenever possible to support the transition to net zero (carbon emissions), kickstart a green industrial revolution, and build economies that withstand whatever our changing climate throws at us," he said.

"And I also hope to secure a substantial pile of cash with which to help all countries to do that. We simply must meet our existing commitments on climate finance, that long overdue $100 billion dollars a year target, and then we must go further still."

Britain wants the COP26 summit to be an in-person meeting. It had originally been due to be held in 2020, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson said it was up to wealthy countries to take up some of the burden of battling climate change without lecturing poorer countries on clean growth.

"... if we want others to leapfrog the dirty technology which did so much for us, then we have a moral and a practical obligation to help them do so, and that means putting our money where our mouth is," he said.

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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Alistair Smout

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